Old Stone House Reopens, Garden Renewed
By September 20, 2021 0 1831•
There was historic activity at Georgetown’s Old Stone House at 3051 M St. NW — the oldest house, dating from about 1762, on its original foundation in Washington, D.C. and now a National Park Service historic site — on September 11.
On the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed close to 3,000 Americans, and after over a year of being closed due to the pandemic, NPS officials re-opened the historic house and large back garden to the public. A color guard from Dunbar High School displayed the colors in a memorial ceremony, organized by the Constitution Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which had also been refurbishing the garden for over a year.
“We are pleased to welcome everyone to the reopened Old Stone House and gardens,” said Dana Dierkes NPS Curator for the Rock Creek Park site. Since the 1950s, the museum has gradually been furnished and reconstructed so that it appears now as it was in the early 1790s when the home was under private ownership.
Dierkes also unveiled a new sign for the garden along with DAR Constitution Chapter Regent Amanda Murphy. Entitled “The Only Constant is Change,” the marker explains the origins and ongoing renovation of the garden and includes maps of its evolution. The sign was developed by the local DAR chapter that has over the past two years planted perennials and roses alongside trellises the partners had bought and painted. New benches were added from donations by Georgetown real estate agent Nancy Taylor Bubes. The NPS maintains the garden as well as conducts tours and manages the Old Stone House that also houses a shop of colonial-style merchandise and tourist gifts.
Old Stone House was privately owned until 1953, when the federal government purchased the property for $90,000 in response to local residents who had come to regard the house as one of historical significance, according to the NPS. At that time, the house accommodated offices for the Parkway Motor Company, a used car dealership whose paved lot sat in what is now the location of the English-style garden.
The NPS opened the house to the public in 1960. Georgetown residents donated most of the colonial furnishings that can be seen in the house today. While rumors that George Washington slept there seem to be unfounded, it is true according to the NPS that in 1791, when President George Washington and Pierre Charles L’Enfant arrived to carve out the federal district from the surrounding “wilderness,” they stayed at the Fountain Inn, operated by John Suter and his family. Commonly called Suter’s Tavern, the inn was the site where the president held negotiations with local landowners. Suter’s son, John Suter, Jr., operate a clock shop in Old Stone House circa 1810. Two hundred years later, John Suter, Jr.’s grandfather clock, which was built in the house more than 200 years ago, was purchased by the NPS and brought back to the house.
The museum and shop are open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday through Monday. The gardens are accessible all week.